Hill School gets into win column
POTTSTOWN >> It took eight games, over a period of more than seven weeks, to build up an enormous amount of frustration.
But just one afternoon to exorcise it.
The Hill School ended its painfully slow start to the 2017 season Saturday against Mercersburg Academy. The Rams’ season-long slide against MidAtlantic Prep and non-league opponents was halted in convincing fashion ... a 32-14 victory over the Blue Storm at Dell Field.
“It’s fun,” Hill head coach Jeff Hollway said after seeing his club end its oh-for the season in its home-field finale. “We’ve fought all the way to the end every game. We just put more on the board today.”
The Hill’s “running back by committee” ground game produced three touchdowns — two by Daniel Adeboboye — while its passing game scored another pair. The defense, in the meantime, stood firm in halting the Blue Storm’s two late possessions driving deep into Ram territory; that was after the visitors closed the Hill’s lead to 2014 late in the third quarter.
“It was a battle,” Adeboboye admitted. “We wanted to physically beat them up top, pound them until they stopped.”
Adeboboye, by himself, put the hammer down on Mercersburg’s run defense. The Hill sixth-former picked up 213 hard yards on 20 carries, and the biggest of his two TD runs was a 79-yarder around his left end that put the Storm in a threescore situation with 5:26 left.
But the Rams’ ground game was far from a one-man show. Gernard Finney covered another 140 stripes on 16 carries, headed by a 22-yard scoring run around his right end with 10:11 to go. And while he didn’t figure in the point production, Wes Midy had a workmanlike 71 yards on eight totes.
“We’re starting to find a way to mix it up,” Hollway said of the run game, which had six backs rack up a total of 457 yards. “We have a lot of good weapons. We’re looking to keep them healthy.”
The Hill’s passing game offered a nice complement to its ground-pounding effort, adding another 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Syre Gruber’s 7-for-13 efficiency featured scoring passes to Christian Chirieleison and Darnell Fleury. He hooked up with Chirieleison on a 20-yard toss 10 seconds into the second quarter for a 7-0 lead, then found Darnell Fleury at the end of a 47-yard TD at the 6:51 mark in the third quarter.
The Gruber/Fleury collaboration was good for six receptions covering 94 yards.
“Physically and athletically, he (Fleury) is one of the best I’ve ever played with,” Gruber said. “Plus, he’s tall (6-foot-3).”
Adeboboye staked the Rams to a 14-point lead following a
0-0 first quarter. He went 18 yards around his left end with 8:33 left in the half as the Hill (1-3 MAPL, 1-7 overall) never let its lead shrink below six points.
“All season long,” he said, “we’ve started games well, but then faded out at the end. “We weren’t going to do that today. We weren’t going to give up.” Mercersburg’s ground and air games contributed fairly equally to their 298 yards’ total offense. Tijani Harris Jr. ran the ball 22 times for 135 yards and a third-quarter score, that after his 52yard option pass to Gabe Hendrickson put the Storm on the board in the second quarter.
But the Hill defense rose to the occasion at the end, forcing Mercersburg to turn the ball over on downs twice in a sevenminute span at the end. Sharif Jones’ defense on a fourth-and-12 incompleted pass was the final call for the Storm, which was also looking to end its own ohfer the season slide.
“Mercersburg coach Dan Walker does a great job with his kids,” Hollway said. “I have a lot of respect for him.”
The win figures to give the Rams a head of steam heading into next weekend’s season finale at Lawrencev ille School. T he matchup between the longtime rivals will be the 130th in the schools’ history.
“Today, we wanted to get the win,” Adeboboye said, “because it will give us momentum going into the Lawrenceville game ... a chance to get a win.”
“The schools revolve around this game,” Hollway added. “It will be my first trip there.”
NOTES » Justin Adedinsewo’s recovery of a Mercersburg fumble at the Rams’ 48, following QB Bennie Barnes’ 53-yard completion to Jason Fang, set the Hill up Adeboboye’s first TD run. ... The Hill faced a frustra- tion-loading 16 penalties for 155 yards. One of them cancelled out what would have been Adeboboye’s second TD of the game — a 43-yard run — though he got it four plays later. “Penalties are penalties,” Hollway said. “We can only control what we control. We worry about Hill first.” ... The Rams tried to add a 22-yard field goal as time ran out in the first half, but the attempt was blocked.